At this time of year, it’s more important than ever to look out for others and support charitable organisations devoted to their cause. Heart Heroes is one such charity and when I caught up with its founder and trustee Kelly Cornish last month, I was just blown away at how much work Heart Heroes does and how invaluable its support and services have become. I hope that after reading this, your heart will go out to them too.
What’s the story behind Heart Heroes?
Kelly oversees the running of the charity from the ‘Initial set up to fundraising, social media, heart family events, raising awareness, connecting with local businesses for support and grant finding.’ After leaving school at 16 Kelly used to travel most days with her auntie who had a baby in intensive care with a congenital heart defect. The memories of poorly babies, flashing lights and the not knowing what was actually was going on are firmly printed on her mind. Sadly Kelly’s cousin passed away at 10 months old during an operation.
In later years, Kelly became a fundraising lead for another charity, which supports young people 16-24 with congenital heart disease. Whilst at a cardiac talk for parents/carers and medical professionals it was then that Kelly saw a real need for support towards families with younger heart children. Therefore in June 2018 she came up with the concept of Heart Heroes, had the logo designed and set up everything around it. Kelly says that they had a ‘Mammoth task of raising £5000 before we could apply for charity status with the charity commission. we worked really hard to raise this money and we got our registration on 23rd April 2019. What an achievement!!!!’ Definitely, I couldn’t agree more.
What does Heart Heroes offer?
Heart Heroes is run soley by volunteers including Kelly and there is a committee that meets regularly to discuss all fundraising efforts and how we can support heart families. Kelly says that ‘One member of the committee is a heart parent herself which is really helpful. We offer family-to-family support by organising events, get togethers, days out. We also offer that each heart child has a ‘heart heroes’ cape and hoodie. We listen to our families and are always asking how we can support. We sign post the families to various external support too such as the family liaison officer on the cardiac ward at Bristol children’s hospital and play therapy.’ Goodness, just a few things to cover then on a daily basis!
How can you support the charity?
There’s a whole host of ways you can support Heart Heroes, you can attend events, share events on social media, donate, offer help and organise fundraising events.
I asked Kelly if she could share any thoughts from parents of those who have worked with Heart Heroes and this is what she forwarded to me. Make sure you have tissues at the ready!
“Hi Kelly, thank you so much for organising yesterday, we had a lovely day. I still feel more wobbly than I realise about Grace’s heart, and being able to meet other people yesterday was really wonderful, also just to have a lovely day out and see other families, it still feels like a whole new part of our lives and I really appreciate your support yesterday. I think it was good for my older 2 to come too, because they don’t come to appointments and only visit when she’s been in hospital they are removed from it and i want them to feel involved. I’m sure yesterday was a lot of work but i wanted you to know how much i appreciated it and how lovely it was to meet you.”
“As a parent of a heart hero, days out are sometimes often quite isolating and lonely and it’s lovely to be part of the group. The volunteers are amazing so approachable, friendly and it was so helpful to be able to pop to the toilet etc and the kids be watched. My kids had the most amazing day making lots of new friends. Having a base was great as my heart warrior tires easily so we were able to sit relax and rest for a bit. Having an opportunity to chat with other heart mums is so important and we were able to catch up with some families we haven’t seen for some time and a couple of families we have met through the hospital. Thank you so much for providing us with this amazing opportunity!”
As you know, my word for this year is inspired and no wonder after writing this. Kelly says hers is ‘strength’ and that ‘These heart children and families go through so much trauma with hospital appointments, open heart surgeries, daily medication, staying well and the unknown and what’s around the corner. The parents as onlookers go through so much….they have to find strength from within….”
As for her own inspirations, Kelly says it’s ‘Every single heart parent or parents who have a child with a life limiting illness as they are just amazingly strong and just want to support other Heart families.’
I don’t know about you but I’m both inspired and broken reading this back. Such an amazing charity and Kelly is quite possibly the loveliest person I’ve ever met. If you’d like to support Heart Heroes then you can find them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. News of upcoming fundraising events can be found on the website.